Col de Balme and Aiguilles des Posettes

Distance: 6.8 miles (one way)

French Alps, near Chamonix in The French Alps

Looking toward Mont Blanc from Posettes

Looking toward Mont Blanc from Posettes


The views are nonstop on this amazing hike visiting two panoramic summits, an incredible overlook and a scenic saddle on the Franco-Swiss border. After visiting the Col de Balme the hike is a roller coaster of ascents and descents. The views are worth the effort.
See Trail Detail/Full Description

  • Distance: 6.8 miles (one way) to Col de Balme
  • Elevation: 7,208-ft. at Trailhead
    7,687-ft. at Col de Balme
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800-ft. to Col de Balme
  • Difficulty: moderate-strenuous
  • More Hikes in:
    Chamonix / The French Alps

Why Hike Col de Balme and Aiguilles des Posettes

Panoramic views stretching from the high peaks of the Bernese Oberland to Mont Blanc are the highlights of this amazing hike visiting two summits; Tete de Balme and Aiguillette des Posettes, the incredible overlook at the Croix de Fer and the Col de Balme, a scenic pass on the Franco-Swiss border.

The hike utilizes the Charamillion-Balme two stage lift composed of a gondola and chairlift, to quickly transport hikers up 2,375-ft. to a point just under a half mile from the Col de Balme. An easy walk leads to this scenic saddle with views stretching north to the peaks of the Bernese Oberland towering above the Rhone Valley and south to Mont Blanc.

From the Col we head north, taking a detour to climbs a steep ridge to the Croix de Fer (7,687-ft.) overlook high above the north end of the Chamonix Valley and the Col de la Forclaz in Switzerland. Vistas stretch east to the Aiguille de Tour and the Trient Glacier. To the west the high peaks soarring above Lac Emosson dominate the view.

Beyond the detour the trail crosses a series of high points, including the Tete de Balme and the Aiguillette des Posettes with magnificient views of the Mont Blanc massif and the Chamonix Needles (Aiguilles de Chamonix) from the Aiguille du Midi to Aiguille des Montets. The Le Tour Glacier and the Aiguille Rouges tower above the west side of the Chamonix Valley.

The hike ends with a steep descent, facilitated by switchbacks, to Le Tour. Don’t attempt this hike during bad weather or if the weather is threatening to turn nasty. You are totally exposed for most of the trip. The trail to the Croix de Fer follows the spine of a ridge with steep drop-offs and is not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights or trails with exposure. Proper equipment is required if the trail is covered with snow/ice.

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile for the Col de Balme and Aiguilles des Posettes Hiking Trail

Trail Resources

Trail Detail/Full Description / Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:

Region Information:
The French Alps

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